"Mandolin Virtuoso Tony Williamson sure can play, and what he doesn't know about mandolins, nobody does!" This is how Acoustic Musician magazine summed up the skill of a man whose concerts have delighted audiences for over 40 years in every state of the Union and in many foreign countries. His tours have included performances in France, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil and most recently, Peru. He brings to the concert stage a love of music, a deep connection to his Carolina roots and a wonderful knowledge of musical instruments and their history.
Tony was born and raised in rural Piedmont North Carolina in a family of wood-workers and musicians. His grandfather, Alfred, made his own musical instruments (at one time his banjo was on display the N.C. Museum of History) and inspired his grandchildren, who began playing music around 1957. With Tony on mandolin and his brother Gary on banjo, they became child sensations and by 1969 had won First places in the coveted "World Championship" in Union Grove, North Carolina. In 1968 the Williamson Brothers recorded "John Henry" for Follett Publishing Co. for an anthology called "Discovering Music Together". Also included in this book and LP record album collection were contributions from "Blood Sweat & Tears" and the Boston Symphony.
After taking a degree with highest honors at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Tony answered the call to go on the road with a touring band, the Bluegrass Alliance, whose alumni include Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Tony Rice and many others. Afterwards, working in a succession of bands led him to the top of his field playing classical, jazz and folk music as well as Bluegrass. His credits include performances on stage and/or in the recording studio with Alison Krauss, Chris Thile, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Bobby Hicks, Tony Rice, Vassar Clements, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Don Stiernberg, and Robin and Linda Williams of Prairie Home Companion fame. He has also received awards and nominations from many national music organizations including the IBMA recorded event of the year n 1994, and has even performed for Luciano Pavarotti! Most recently, he performed with Bobby Hicks at the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award ceremony.
Tony is known for his love of the mandolin family of instruments. During the turn-of-the-century America, the mandolin experienced a popularity that can be described as a “rage” or a “craze.” Later, overshadowed by other types of music, this once beloved instrument was nearly forgotten. The mandolin, however, has now made a dramatic comeback nearly 100 years later. Tony Williamson’s performance work at Mandolin Central makes a strong case for this comeback, as his playing amazes audiences and his discussions inform and entertain. His knowledge of musical instruments is eclipsed only by the wonderful collection of priceless vintage mandolins and guitars that he brings to the stage to demonstrate why these pieces are so revered for their tone and craftsmanship. These instruments are the templates for all modern instrument makers and to find such a collection out from under the glass case of a museum and actually being performed upon is a rare opportunity for musicians and audiences alike.
David Ryoko of the Chicago Tribune summed it up back in 2001: “Tony Williamson is among the finest mandolinists alive, and the instrumental passages, featuring an excellent band assembled for this session, dazzle without ever lapsing into flashiness. This is great music hiding behind genuine humility.” The latest recordings by Tony include "Lloyd Loar Mandolins" featuring a solo each on 13 different vintage F-5 mandolins from the 1920s and the Williamson Brother's "Bluegrass!" featuring Tony performing with his brother, Gary, and an all star band including Craig Smith on banjo and the "Sons of Ralph" on fiddle and guitar.
Andrew Williamson <firstname.lastname@example.org>